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The Importance of Probation and Parole in the US Criminal Justice SystemProbation and parole are very important to our communities,victims, offenders, and society as a whole. So, what is probation and paroleand how does it help? This is a great question that often people wonder, but donot ask. Take this into account that there is over 5 million people that arecurrently being supervised within the corrections system and about 70% aresupervised by probation and parole. Probation and parole which is also calledthe community corrections which uses traditional probationand parole traditions as well as other sanctions such as intensive supervision,restitution, community service, correctional boot camps, and fines (Admin, 2013).

This community corrections have been used for over 30 yearsand has helped change the theoretical modelguiding the practice of community supervision. This helps make the goals of thecommunity important and for the offenders to integrate into the community. Formany victims’ probation and parole are very important to them because bothprobation and parole have obligations to ensure that victims rights are beenprovided. Victims are in many ways consideredclients of community correctionsagencies, because they are to be kept informed, and involved in receiving informationabout and access to community- and system-based services that can help them inthe aftermath of a crime. These victims are also helpful in provided useful informationthat can be critical to effective management and supervision ofdefendants/convicted offenders (Appa-Net, 2013).

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            However,within the community corrections offenders are giving the tools needs to becomesuccessful in the community. Probation and parole help offenders obtainemployment and aiding the offender’s family. This method comes for a man namedJohn Augustus, which has been being used since the late 19 centuries.  After probation or parole time is up theoffenders return to court armed with sentencing recommendations or reducedsentencing. Due to his efforts John Augustus’s charges were typically sparedincarceration. John Augustus’s probation is what is still practiced today withlittle change (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

            Toclearly understand probation and parole you need to know how this practice camearound. It started in the mid-19th century that many to all theoffenders were sentencing was either a flat ordeterminate sentencing into prison. By using this type of sentencing, eachoffender receives a specific amount of time to serve in the correctional systemby the crime they committed. However, this system created problems when thecorrectional faculties became overcrowded. Therefore, due to overcrowding therehad to be mass pardons or random prison releases of offenders to make more room.

Therefore, something had to be done and therefore created room for change inthe system.             Changes were made to start creatinga parole system which was started by an Captain Alexander Maconochie, and laterimproved by Sir Walter Crofton. Maconochie wanted to use the idea that was usedin Norfolk Islands which was that criminals were transported to between oneEnglish country to another English country (Norfolk Island) which wasconsidered “twice condemned”. Conditions were so bad on NorfolkIsland that men who received reprieves from the death penalty wept. Therefore, Maconochieremoved the flat sentencing structure and instead created a “marksystem” (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).The Mark System was used for offenders to could earn freedom through hard workand good behavior within the correctional system.

Earning marks allowed for offendersto buy goods or shorten their sentence. The offenders that were chosen for theMark System had to pass through a different stage beginning with strictimprisonment through conditional release to final freedom (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).  Sir Walter Crofton had a different idea whichhe believed the length of the sentence should not be based on a certain periodbut should be related to the rehabilitation of the offender. Crofton created asystem that incorporating three classes of penal servitude: strictimprisonment, indeterminate sentences, and tickets-of-leave (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

In the last 19thcentury Zebulon Brockway, known for initiating indeterminate sentences andparole release in the United States. Brockway had almost the same idea asMaconochie and Crofton, however Brockway felt that offenders should earn theirway out of prison through good behavior. Therefore, offenders receive asentence that could vary in length depending on their behavior in thecorrectional system. This system can offer two advantages which are first providea release valve for managing prison populations. Second it would put value on reformingoffenders because they would be earning release by demonstrating good behavior (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

Brockway came up withthis idea of a probation and parole system when he was the superintendent ofElmira Reformatory. The inmates within the reformatory were graded on theirconduct, achievement, and education. Therefore, basis of their behavior in thereformatory they were given parole (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).Making this theimportant concept which created the ground work for probation and parole in theUnited States. Brockway offered 3 concepts that were put into place first was areduction in the offenders’ sentence based of their behavior in thecorrectional system. Second the offenders would be supervised while onprobation or parole within the community. Number three the offender would haveindeterminate sentences (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

Due to Brockway itcreated the probation and parole to what it is today however, with changes towhat is needed today instead of the 19th century. Today we are facedwith even more overcrowding than before. Causing increases to probation andparole populations. Increased rates of revocations have been attributed to manyfactors including was based pf six things one control-oriented practices ofcommunity supervision. Second probation and parole officers did backgrounds ofthe offenders. Third have an increase in the number of requirements ofprobation and parole.  Fourth improvesupervision of offender’s violations. Fifth the more serious offender placed oncommunity supervision caseloads.

Lastly the increase in probation and parolecaseloads (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).Therefore, mostprobationers successfully completed their sentence without incident. However, recidivismrates for offenders on probation and parole are higher than before.

More than 62%percent offenders have been rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanorwithin three years of release and 41% of offenders returned to prison (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).Due to the increasingnumbers of offenders are having parole revoked during community supervision,many jurisdictions are reexamining their revocation procedures. Therefore, differentdevelopments have been made to the probation and parole structure which includedecision-making, and how the criminal justice trends change with time. The newstructure helps develop decision-making by clearer policies giving the goals ofrevocation and specifying which violations are serious enough to result inrevocation procedures.

To help identify what behaviors warrant alternative. Thisallows for probation and parole officers to have a clear understanding of violationsand to provide a routine supervision that can be responded to in a variety ofways (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).In conclusion it is importantto understand what, and where probation and parole comes from. This is animportant step to help communities, victims, offenders, and society as a whole.It is important to see the functions of probation and parole. To have asuccessful system in place you first must learn it and understand what thesystem is. Therefore, understanding the history, movements, and practices areimportant.

     

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